Red Sox vs. Rangers MLB Preview

Charlie Culberson #2 of the Texas Rangers. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP

Charlie Culberson #2 of the Texas Rangers. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP

 

Not much was expected from Boston and Texas according to the preseason baseball futures. The Rangers are living up to their end of the bargain currently by holding down the AL West cellar, while the Red Sox are surprising leaders in the AL East heading into their long weekend series.

 

Boston Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers

at Globe Life Field

 

Boston reaches the Lone Star State with a 3-game lead in the AL East and looking to build on a 3-game win streak. The Red Sox just took two in New York, holding the Mets lineup to one run in the short interleague series.

Texas resides in the AL West basement, five games behind the frontrunning Oakland Athletics. The Rangers have dropped five of their last six trips to the diamond, losing two of three to the Los Angeles Angels to begin this homestand and dragging around the second-worst run differential in the Junior Circuit.

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Mets vs. Cubs MLB Preview

Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs is congratulated by Javier Baez #9. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images/AFP

Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs is congratulated by Javier Baez #9. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images/AFP

Chicago fans are encouraged to dress accordingly for tonight’s game when the low-50s are projected on the thermometer. Cubs fans are also encouraged to bring their brooms in anticipation of sweeping the New York Mets on Thursday’s baseball betting card.

 

New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs

at Wrigley Field

Chicago looks to climb back to .500 in the standings with a win in the finale, while also dropping New York to an even record in the process. The Cubs took the first two contests, closer Craig Kimbrell snuffing a Mets rally attempt for a 3-1 final in Tuesday’s opener before bashing away for a 16-4 rout on Wednesday.

Winning the first two games of the series gives Chicago a 6-game string of dubyas over New York, the streak stretching back to June 2019. Wednesday’s blowout also left totals 4-2-1 O/U/P in the last seven matchups played on the Windy City’s North Side.

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Rockies vs. Dodgers MLB Preview

Justin Turner #10 and Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate.Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

Justin Turner #10 and Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate.Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

Extra-thick chalk on Thursday’s baseball betting card awaits anyone looking to play the streaking Los Angeles Dodgers in their series finale against the sinking Colorado Rockies.

Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

 at Dodger Stadium

 To no one’s surprise, Los Angeles and Colorado are on opposite ends of the NL West standings, just as the MLB futures odds suggested before the season began. The Dodgers and Rockies also head into their series finale with opposite streaks, LA surging with five consecutive wins while Colorado is in the throes of a 5-game skid. The Dodgers extended both of those streaks by taking the first two games and outscoring the Rockies 11-2 in the process.

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Athletics vs. Astros MLB Preview

Los Angeles Dodgers v Oakland Athletics

 

Rivals from the American League West Division collide on Thursday’s MLB betting card, and the Oakland Athletics will be looking for some revenge in Houston against the Astros.

 

Oakland Athletics vs. Houston Astros

Thursday, April 8, 2021 – 8:10 PM ET at Minute Maid Park

 

Oakland and Houston were co-favorites for the division title according to the preseason baseball futures, but are instead on opposites ends of the standings coming into this early rematch. The Astros packed their brooms for the season-opening series out in Oakland last weekend, and enter their home opener on top of the AL West. The A’s, meanwhile, just picked up their first dubya of the year to sit in the division basement.

 

A’s Have Dropped Their Last 4 Series Openers

 

Expectations are for about 20,000 fans at the game in Houston, no doubt some of them joining the national craze and hoping to smuggle their own trash cans into the contest. Yawn. The initial mound duel is between Cole Irvin (0-1, 8.31) and Cristian Javier (0-0, 4.91), and US betting sites such as Bet365 are carrying Javier and the Astros as -150 favorites. Most shops are selling the total at 9.5 while juicing the ‘over’ a little extra.

 

Oakland picked up win No. 1 of 2021 yesterday in a matinee at home, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 in 10 innings. The six-game losing streak to begin the season was a true team effort with shoddy pitching and a slumbering offense to blame. Only the Pittsburgh Pirates have a higher ERA than the 7.17 that A’s pitchers bring into this series, and a .528 OPS only bests the Milwaukee Brewers.

 

Irvin was no mystery to Astros hitters last Saturday, the lefthander allowing single tallies in the first and second innings before Houston finally chased him in the fifth. Astros hitters made him work through 46 pitches in the first two innings alone. Sold from Philadelphia to Oakland in January, it looked like a great buy for the A’s when Irvin had a solid spring, making three starts and two relief appearances with a 1.00 ERA and 18 strikeouts over 18 frames. Last Saturday was his first start against the Astros, and Thursday will be his first time on the Minute Maid mound.

 

‘Over’ Cashes Astros’ Last 5 Vs. Lefty Starters

 

Houston enjoyed a day off following a 6-game swing out west, coming home with a 5-1 record and owning the largest run differential (+27) in the majors through Tuesday. The Astros scored 7.50 runs per game on the trip, cracking an MLB-best 12 homers in the six contests with Kyle Tucker going deep in each of the final three games.

 

The offense hasn’t been the only facet of the game responsible for Houston’s quick start with the pitching staff posting a 2.72 ERA over the first half-dozen games. Javier is hoping to contribute to that side of the equation in his second start, the first being last Friday in Oakland against the A’s. The 24-year-old Dominican was a +115 underdog on the MLB odds board, and breezed through the first three innings retiring 9-straight. Javier ran into trouble in the fourth, however, and was lifted before he could factor in Houston’s 9-5 triumph. The Astros won four of his five home starts last season while Javier pitched to a 2.17 ERA at Minute Maid (29 IP).

 

‘Over’ Joins Astros in Last Weekend’s Sweep in Oakland

 

None of the booing, taunting and trash can props troubled the Astros in Oakland last weekend, and it will be interesting to see how the home fans treat them at the first game played in front of fans at Minute Maid since the fines and suspensions were handed down for the sign-stealing scandal.

 

Oakland won the season series a year ago, 7-3, but dropped the only two games played in Houston. The Astros own an 87-64 advantage in the rivalry dating back to when the two clubs were interleague rivals, and are 44-29 in the contests played in the Bayou City.

 

Houston might be down a key stick on Thursday, and possibly beyond, with Michael Brantley listed as questionable. He was plunked on the wrist last Saturday in Oakland by Irvin, and has been out of the lineup since. Most of the Astros’ dominance in this rivalry has actually taken place out in Oakland, and since things have a way of evening out – especially in baseball – my crystal ball says to run with the A’s for a free MLB pick.

 

MLB Pick: Athletics (+130) at Bet365

Florida State vs Michigan NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Preview

Malik Osborne #10 of the Florida State Seminoles goes up for a shot. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

Malik Osborne #10 of the Florida State Seminoles goes up for a shot. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

Upsets and underdogs have ruled March Madness heading into the Sweet 16, but the battle between the Florida State Seminoles and Michigan Wolverines is just like it was drawn up when the seeds were first handed out on Selection Sunday.

Florida State Seminoles vs. Michigan Wolverines

at Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Of the eight games in the Sweet 16, this is the only one coming off as projected by the seeding with Michigan the No. 1 in the East and Florida State No. 4. In fact, the top half of the East Region has run perfectly according to seeding. The Wolverines appear to have corrected some of their late-season woes when they dropped three of their last five, and have taken care of business against the No. 16 and No. 8 seeds of the East. Likewise, the Seminoles lost three of their final five games before the tourney, and have dispatched the No. 13 and No. 5 seeds to reach the East Region semifinals.

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